If you're like most parents, you want to pack a school lunch that is healthy, tasty, inexpensive, easy to prepare, and won't be wasted. Here are some healthy school lunch ideas and guidelines to follow to make sure your kids enjoy their school lunches every time:
• Nutritionists recommend that kids eat fruits, vegetables and lean proteins like chicken, turkey or beans in their school lunches. It's good advice, but you don't have to set impossible standards for yourself, either.
• What I mean is, if your kids are used to taking bologna and cheese with mayo on white bread, don't switch to tofu and brown rice cakes in one day. Make changes to healthier foods gradually. Keep the bologna and cheese, but put it on whole wheat bread, or make bologna and cheese roll-ups.
• Choose natural foods wherever possible. There are so many convenient natural snacks nowadays, from baby carrots and dip to natural cheese whole grian crackers, that it's easy to pack a healthy lunch that doesn't take a ton of time to prepare.
• Use whole wheat bread. If your kids don't like whole wheat bread, try a "white" whole wheat bread, which is made with an albino strain of wheat and has the same nutritional profile as regular whole wheat bread.
• Skip the pops, and limit juices. Pop has no nutritional value and juices, even 100% natural juices, can be high in sugar and calories. Water and milk are better healthier choices. But if the kids really want juice, try alternating between water and juice, or giving them a choice between juice or dessert. If I had a choice between drinking water and having chocolate cookies in my lunch, I'm going to pick the cookies. But that's just me.
• Keep it simple. Most young kids prefer plain foods over fancy, less seasoned over spicy, and simply prepared over fussy. For older kids, add variety by grilling sandwiches and wrapping in foil. Chicken quesadillas are one of my kids' favourite lunch box foods.
• Pack small quantities of a variety of foods in separate containers(eco-friendly). This is not only more visually-appealing to kids, makes it easy to eat in a hurry, it keeps food from getting soggy and can be a great way to get kids to try new foods.
Lori Tinella, founder